Is this brutal heat the new norm?
It’s 97 degrees outside today in New York, but with the heat index, it feels like 107. And tomorrow’s forecast is even more brutal with a base temperature of 101 predicted. With all the talk of global warming, the question is, is this the new norm?
Of course, the East Coast is just now starting to feel the effects of a heat wave that has been blistering the central part of the country. Our son and daughter, who both live in Oklahoma, have been bemoaning the triple-digit temps for weeks now. According to the National Weather Service, heat-related causes have already claimed the lives of more than 20 people, and on Tuesday alone, 17 states reached 100 degrees. Unfortunately, those numbers are likely to climb as heat is the No. 1 weather-related killer in the U.S.
As the temperatures have risen, so have the number of conversations surrounding climate change. That’s not really new as people often confuse the day-to-day fluctuations of the weather outside their window with the broader, long-range concept of climate. And because for years climate change was conflated with global warming, spikes in heat seem to make it easier for people to conceptualize. But is it really that simple, that the earth is warming and we’re hotter? And is it a permanent trend?
According to studies done recently by Stanford University scientists, the answer is yes, and soon. The phrase you’ll likely here a lot over the next few years is “permanent extreme heat emergence.” Or what I like to call the new norm.
The climate study by those Stanford scientists showed that a large swath of the Northern Hemisphere and other parts of the world will suffer an irreversible rise in summer temperatures — as early as 20 years from now — if greenhouse gases continue to rise unabated.
“According to our projections, large areas of the globe are likely to warm up so quickly that, by the middle of this century, even the coolest summers will be hotter than the hottest summers of the past 50 years,” said the study’s lead author, Noah Diffenbaugh.
“Permanent extreme heat emergence” was predicted not just for the U.S. over the course of the next 20 to 60 years, but for regions in Europe, China, South America, Africa and Asia. And with that new norm come all the associated consequences: From loss of human life and the impact on our ecosystem to climate chaos, and food security, which looms as the next big global conversation. Food prices will continue to rise as the population continues to increase and the food supply continues to diminish.
It’s hot now, but the heat — both real and political — is only getting started.
- Heat Wave In Central U.S. Shows No Signs Of Ending (huffingtonpost.com)
- Rush Limbaugh’s conspiracy theory (ThinkProgress.org)
- Heat wave moves into Eastern U.S. (New York Times)